Turf war hits MHA’s smart card project

Published: 05th April 2013 10:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th April 2013 10:01 AM   |  A+A-

Rollout of the Resident Identity Card (RIC) may be further delayed, as a Group of Ministers formed to apprise the Cabinet on the National Population Register and Aadhaar is yet to decide on discussing the security implications of the proposed smart card with RIC officials.

Sources said the jumbo GoM, headed by Defence Minister A K Antony and comprising 14 other members, met only once in the last two months. The GoM was constituted by the Prime Minister in February after some ministers questioned the validity of the RIC.

“The reason behind the delay could be the turf war between the Nandan Nilekani-headed UIDAI and the Ministry of Home Affairs. In its first meeting, the GoM was informed that Aadhaar was not a card but only a number and the RIC was the only legal identity card,” a sources said.  An official source said the first GoM meeting held on March 13 was a non-starter as the Cabinet ministers and special invitees had other engagements. Only a brief session was held to discuss the `5,500-crore proposal which has serious security implications. The Centre has already covered 3,331 villages in 13 coastal states and issued 62 lakh smart cards to check infiltration, he said.

“We gave a presentation explaining that it is mandatory to register every citizen and issue an identity card to him/her as per Section 14A of the Citizenship Act,1955. There are security concerns and the entire exercise must be expedited,” he said.

The presentation, copies of which were distributed among the GoM members, explained that the 12-digit Aadhaar number would be printed on the RIC to ensure the smooth delivery of welfare services.  “The mandate of Aadhaar is limited. People have mistaken the UIDAI letter carrying a number and photo for a card. Since the first meeting hadn’t enough time, we couldn’t explain the security concerns and how the entire project is different from Aadhaar. We are waiting for the next meeting,” the source added.

Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel , Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Law Minister Ashwini Kumar, Social Justice Minister Kumari Selja and Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo are members of the GoM. 


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